Season Preview: Dinamo Moscow

Dinamo Moscow ultras. Photo: Паршин Дмитрий

Dinamo Moscow ultras. Photo: Паршин Дмитрий

Following their relegation to the Football National League in 2016, Dinamo Moscow had one main task for the season ahead. This was to bounce straight back up to Russia’s top flight. Not only did they manage this, but they did it in style, winning the league with 12 more points than second placed Tosno, and only losing three times in the league all season.

Determined to start climbing back to the top of Russian football, Dinamo have already made four signings this summer. Having tied down their top scorer, Kirill Panchenko, to a permanent deal, the club also managed to sign Wanderson from FC Krasnodar after the expiry of his contract. The Brazilian has lots of experience in Russia, and will certainly strengthen their attack. As well as this, they have signed two defensive players. Bosnian international Toni Sunjic, who previously played for Kuban Krasnodar, has returned to Russia after two years away at VfB Stuttgart and Palermo. Samba Sow has also joined the Moscow side, moving from Kaysersispor. He is mostly used in defensive midfield, but can also play at centre back if needed. It is also important to note that Aleksey Ionov has returned to Dinamo after his loan spell at CSKA Moscow.

Head coach
Head coach Yuri Kalitvintsev was hired last season to help bring Dinamo back to the RFPL, and having previously coached Volga Nizhny Novgorod in Russia’s top flight, he will be familiar with the league. Apart from this, much of his managerial career has seen him work at Dynamo Kyiv’s 2nd team, as well as taking the role of assistant manager for Ukraine’s national team. He was also the manager of Ukraine’s under-19 team at the European Championships in 2009, where he helped them win the tournament. Winning this tournament and last season’s FNL have been the two main highlights of Kalitvintsev’s career, and he will be hoping that he can reach new heights while at Dinamo.

Greatest Strength
The strongest point in Dinamo’s team is their attack. If they decide to play two upfront, they have a choice between Kirill Panchenko, Wanderson, Fatos Beqiraj, Evgeni Lutsenko, Nikolai Obolskiy and Pavel Pogrebnyak. As well as this, they have attacking wingers like Aleksey Ionov and Aleksandr Tashaev, who can also be covered by Ivan Temnikov and Anton Terekhov. It is unusual for newly promoted teams to have such strength and depth in attack.

Greatest weakness
Dinamo’s greatest weakness comes in central midfield. Although they have some good midfielders, from the five players that can play in the position, four of them are defensive minded. Although this isn’t that much of a problem, the lack of versatility could hurt them in matches, especially when trying to break down defensive teams. Their attack alone may have been enough to do this in the FNL, but the RFPL is a different standard, and will definitely be more difficult in this regard.

Key player
Although Dinamo have made some great signings already this summer, Kirill Panchenko remains the key player for the White-Blues. Having spent last season at the club on loan from CSKA Moscow, he fit right into the system and managed to score 25 goals and provide nine assists in 37 games, meaning he was directly involved in 47% of their goals. He finished the season as top scorer in the FNL, and proved to be Dinamo Moscow’s most clinical player. Rightfully, Dinamo took up the option to buy him for a transfer fee of around €1.8 million. Having now signed the three-year deal at the club, Dinamo fans will be hoping that he can bring his form with him to the RFPL.

Young startlet

19-year-old Nikita Kalugin started last season playing for Dinamo Moscow-2 as well as UEFA Youth League matches with the youth team. Having been named player of the year at Dinamo’s Lev Yashin Academy in 2016, it was clear that the player was one for the future.

When the winter break came along, he was called up to go to the training camps with the senior team, where he impressed Yuri Kalitvintsev. On the 12th of March, he made his debut for Dinamo’s senior team, as he came on against Luch-Energiya away. Just two weeks later, he played 90 minutes in one of Dinamo’s biggest games of the season, against Tosno away. Since then, he has managed to pick up seven appearances for Dinamo in total, and it could have been more had it not been for an injury. Although naturally a centre back, he has been used mainly at left back for the senior team, and will look to cement his place in Kalitvintsev’s team in the new season.

Season prediction
Although they are a newly promoted side, Dinamo have shown that they are too good to be playing in Russia’s second tier. Their signings so far have highlighted that they are ambitious, and that they expect to be more than a relegation threatened team. Having said this, I don’t think they are quite good enough to challenge for the European spots this year. If they manage to comfortably stay up and place themselves in mid table for this season, I think it will be a successful season for them.

Author: Artem Makarevitch

Born in Russia, raised in Ireland. Studying Sports and Exercise Management in University College Dublin. Part-time youth football coach, full-time Russian football fan. Zenit St. Petersburg supporter.


  1. Great articles guys! When will you do Rubin Kazan preview? I am really excited about them

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